Buyer's Guide 2008: Displays
Dramatically improve your efficiency and enjoyment of digital darkroom work with a big, bright LCD
Thinner, brighter and more affordable than ever, LCDs continue to make major strides, delivering outstanding image quality without budget-busting price tags. Compared to now antiquated CRTs, LCDs produce noticeably brighter, sharper-looking images, use half (or less) as much power and take up far less desk space while delivering larger screen sizes.
LCDs use a matrix of pixels to display images and are optimized for a fixed or native resolution at which the display looks best. A 15-inch LCD has a native resolution of 1024 x 768, while most 17-, 18- or 19-inch models feature 1280 x 1024. Typical 20- and 21-inch displays are 1600 x 1200, and most widescreen 23- and 24-inch models usually have a 1920 x 1200 native resolution. A 30-inch widescreen has a resolution of 2560 x 1600. You can use resolutions other than the native spec, but you won't get the sharpest, clearest picture possible when you do.
LCDs are offered in traditional 4:3 and widescreen 16:10 formats. Increasingly, image-editing programs like Photoshop are designed to take full advantage of the widescreen format, using the space for better organization of tool palettes and adjustment controls.
The smartly designed, aluminum-encased Cinema LCD displays from Apple range from 20 to 30 inches in size and share features, including a widescreen design, integrated hubs for FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 (each with two ports) and stands that require just a light touch for tilting the monitor into a different position. A DVI connection makes the monitors PC-compatible.
The 30-inch Cinema HD Display is the crown jewel of the lineup. With 2560 x 1600 resolution and a fully viewable display size of 30 inches in 16:10 format, the monitor offers maximum screen real estate for working with images or multitasking between several applications. The 30-inch display requires a graphics card with dual-link DVI connectivity. Estimated Street Price: $1,799.